Design Lab Week #3

I can’t believe a third week is down already, and I have to say the class made really good progress on our way towards redesigning the classroom. This week our focus was on interviews! And yes, being 1 of only 2 sophomores in the class also apart of the Gifted Honors English program means I had to get interviewed myself (yikes). My teacher, Mr. Heidt, runs both the Ghenglish and Design Lab programs in the same classroom, and since I’m in both I was the lucky winner of being interrogated. We still did our daily rituals this week, but nothing stuck out to me more than the interviews. Monday we started by talking about the articles we read last week and the conclusions we got out of them, while Tuesday we began our talk of what questions we would ask Mr. Heidt during his interview, which was Wednesday. We all sat in a circle around him peppering him with questions we came up with in teams using a sheet called an empathy chart. The chart basically separated what an interviewer’s observations of the interviewee should include, which were divided up into the categories say, do, think, and feel. I had do, which means I focused on his actions, but those were so limited I just started jotting down random notes. Focusing on one thing at a time was an interesting way to interview someone, as I could actually listen without worrying about writing anything down, but I feel like I missed out on taking better notes since my topic was so limiting. Mr. Heidt gladly talked for the whole class period about his classroom experiences, which us students had to make a conclusion from. What we gathered is that our classroom redesign needs to be comfortable for students, help the teacher be more organized, and be versatile so we can move around. Mr. Heidt talked all about these foam cube chairs, and I’m totally into them. I mean, squishy chairs you can move anywhere easily? Sounds cool to me!

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After the teacher interview, I walked in Thursday only to be sat down and interrogated myself. As I explained above, only two students have both classes that happen in the room, so half of the class interviewed me as a Design Lab student, while the other sophomore was interviewed as an English student. I really liked sharing my opinion of what makes a good classroom, and I talked about liking sitting at large tables and having creative spaces. I love my math class, which is a computer lab converted into a classroom with giant tables for people to work together at, and it surprised the other kids as not many people like that room. Being interviewed was cool, and while I’m not always a fan of being really open like that it was interesting to see how people saw me and what their take on me was. Since we had to make POV statements about our observations, people who interviewed me said things like the “well-spoken, creative, and quiet English students needs…”, and I thought that was really awesome.

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Us interviewing Mr. Heidt, I’m in the center 🙂

Speaking of POV statements, we all wrote some about Mr. Heidt, and then used all of these to change our How Might We statement, which is basically our mission statement. The original was, “How might we design a space that biases learners towards thinking and doing?”, but we were asked to rethink it to suit our new understanding of what the classroom needs. Personally I didn’t like the word “biases” since it comes off negative to me, so luckily the new one doesn’t have that. The new one is: “How might we create an environment where students can be motivated, creative, comfortable and communicative while being able to transition between different modes of learning in a way that makes them feel engaged?”. While it’s really long, it includes everyone’s ideas and is specific and general enough that we can accomplish what we need to accomplish. Making the new statements was difficult as we all had different takes on the information from the interviews, but with everyone sharing ideas it all worked out.

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